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Maggie Gyllenhaal impresses in this romantic comedy with a kinky twist.
All Critics (155)
| Top Critics (35)
| Fresh (118)
| Rotten (37)
| DVD (14)
A feel-good movie about sadomasochism, the seriocomic Secretary manages to be simultaneously subversive and sweet...In the wrong hands, the conceit could have turned ugly and offensive. But Spader and Gyllenhaal have a hushed, hilarious chemistry.
The cast comes through even when the movie doesn't.
Despite its flaws, Secretary stays in your head and makes you question your own firmly held positions.
A picture with heart. You shouldn't leave feeling soiled or bruised. Just touched.
Self-serious and ultimately pedestrian satire.
I don't know about you, but I found all these outrageously romantic maneuvers both funny and endearing.
Spader handles a tricky role beautifully, but this is Gyllenhaals's tour de force. She is remarkable and original.
... Secretary shows how one woman stopped at nothing to get her love. But I'm still scratching my head at the whole thing.
[Secretary] manages the impossible trifecta of being simultaneously funny, sympathetic, and really, really hot.
This is a film that is in on the joke but doesn't make light of its subject matter.
Shainberg sets up a restless quality in both characters, and he takes them very seriously but it still comes as a bit of shock to see what is normally considered to be sexist behavior finally and ultimately embraced.
Absolutely terrific, tight, and focused filmmaking.
"To thine own self be true," or so the saying goes but that's not always such an easy thing to do, society being society. Finding yourself, and then possibly finding love, is the gist here, capably realized by an able cast and in a memorable fashion.
What makes this film stand out as a truly adorable romance is the surprising way that it tackles the spicy kinkiness of its subject as a means for two people to find happiness, while it boasts a great score/soundtrack and Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in a lovely performance.
Based on a short story, written by Mary Gaitskill, "Secretary" tells the story of a mousy young woman who wants to change her life after a lifetime of cutting and self-hatred. Enter her boss (Spader) who is happy to help her change her ways by taking advantage of her sexually, culminating in a sadomasochistic relationship. The film is a test for the audience, to see if you believe it's a love story between two people who want a sub/dom relationship pertaining to a romantic interest that incorporates mutual respect and love, or a story about a man dominating a woman. The former would be a complex and often accepted story, since Gyllenhaal's character has to persuade her paramour that that is indeed what she wants, and that public attention doesn't limit her affection. It's rather sweet in places, but very dark in others, earnest in its depiction of these kinds of sexual fantasies and their participants. It's a bold endeavor for director Shainberg, one that pays off inevitably.
Quite a strange quirky film with a mix of drama and comedy. It won't be for everyone's taste but it does have some funny and weird moments in equal measure.
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